4/14/2014 7:31 P.M. ET
Rockies mindful of keeping backups active
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- One of Rockies manager Walt Weiss' challenges has been keeping right-handed-hitting outfielders Brandon Barnes and Drew Stubbs sharp, now that left-handed-hitting Charlie Blackmon has hit well enough to be the regular center fielder.
"It's a tough position to be in, as a player not getting consistent at-bats up here, but those guys are going to get hot at some point and they're going to have their opportunities, so I'm not too concerned about it," Weiss said.
Thus far, Barnes has functioned well as a part-time player, hitting .273 in 22 at-bats in 12 games. His successful hit-and-run at-bat against the Giants' Matt Cain helped set up the only run of Saturday's 1-0 victory. In parts of two seasons with the Astros, who sent him and pitcher Jordan Lyles to the Rockies for center fielder Dexter Fowler over the winter, Barnes was asked to execute many small-ball tasks that have come into play as a reserve.
Barnes and Stubbs both contributed as pinch-hitters during Sunday's eighth-inning, game-tying rally in an eventual 5-4, 10-inning loss to the Giants. Barnes executed a successful sacrifice bunt that set up Stubbs' RBI single to knot the score at 4.
Entering Sunday, Stubbs had hit .125 with five strikeouts in 16 at-bats over eight games. Generally, the starting center fielder has hit leadoff, but Stubbs is more of a down-in-the-order hitter. He also takes big swings and likely will have to execute the smaller tasks to improve his offensive functionality in a part-time role. He has all the defensive tools to be a standout defender, whether as a starter or a late-innings reserve.
"He brings some weapons, Stubbs does, with his speed and his ability to hit the ball out of the park," Weiss said. "He can help us in a number of ways. That's part of his game, the small ball -- he's working a lot on his bunting. We feel like we have some weapons with both of those guys."
Rockies have deep admiration for Robinson
SAN FRANCISCO -- Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu, catcher Jordan Pacheco and relief pitcher Chad Bettis all smiled at the prospect of wearing No. 42 on Tuesday when the Rockies meet the Padres.
For the first time in their careers, they'll be on a big league roster when Major League Baseball commemorates Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1942.
"He took a lot of risks and really made a big sacrifice for a lot of people, and I more than appreciate that," LeMahieu said. "In a game like this, it's cool to be able to honor someone like that."
Pacheco, who played in 132 games in 2012 but was optioned to Triple-A Colorado Springs just before the annual celebration, said wearing 42 would be an honor. Pacheco noted that veteran relief pitcher LaTroy Hawkins -- more on him later -- and others at times during Spring Training asked younger players to look up historical figures to increase their appreciation of the game's history.
"For baseball, this is awesome," Pacheco said. "To be playing this game, you definitely need to know the history of it, those who got the game where it is now."
One of the outgrowths of the celebration is the focus on the declining number of African-American players. In that way, Bettis said he feels fortunate. Growing up in Lubbock, Texas, and traveling around the state on school and club teams, he saw all races represented.
"The city that I grew up in and all the schools that I went to, they were all diverse, so that was never a question," Bettis said. "Our teams were diverse. Even going to play other schools, it was never anything like that."
Rockies veteran Michael Cuddyer has noticed the declining African-American numbers and notes many factors.
Cuddyer pointed out that it could serve baseball to be a little looser with shoes and other adornments, because LeBron James and many basketball players inspire young players because of the gear that they wear.
However, Cuddyer said one of the biggest issues is cost, with diminishing spaces to play informally and the escalation of club travel teams at a young age. Cuddyer sees the money issue having pushed African-Americans out of the sport, but also sees it as threatening Americans of all types while many poor countries, with way less formal systems, have made inroads in producing Major Leaguers.
"There are less places for people to just go play the game -- it's an alarmingly low number of black players but it's an alarming number of young kids not playing," Cuddyer said. "With travel teams, there are fewer pickup games and more official games. I learned more, played more and had more fun in pickup games than I ever did in an organized game."
Pacheco said he has taken it upon himself to do what he can go give kids opportunities in his hometown of Albuquerque, N.M., to make the game more affordable.
Hawkins, the Rockies' only African-American player, has not seen the progress he would like with the participation issue, but he does like the awareness that has been brought to other players.
"They look forward to Jackie Robinson Day just like we do," Hawkins said. "It started off as only black guys wearing 42, then they made it for everybody, so I like to know how they feel about it."
Anderson out 4-6 weeks with broken finger
SAN FRANCISCO -- An X-ray revealed that Rockies left-handed pitcher Brett Anderson suffered a broken left index finger Saturday, which the club said means he will likely miss four to six weeks.
Colorado placed Anderson on the 15-day disabled list on Monday, retractive to Saturday, and called up Corey Dickerson from Triple-A Colorado Springs.
Anderson, who incurred the injury while batting against Matt Cain during Saturday's 1-0 victory over the Giants, will need to go to the 15-day disabled list. Manager Walt Weiss, who learned the extent of the injury at the beginning of his team's 5-4, 10-inning loss to the Giants on Sunday, said he had not had discussions with club officials, but he thought the team would put lefty Franklin Morales back into the rotation.
Anderson (0-2, 3.60 ERA) was having the best of his three starts for three innings before suffering the injury when he hit a Cain pitch off the end of his bat.
"One of the more frustrating parts was after the game I got some more range of motion and there wasn't as much swelling, and today it puffed up and the mobility wasn't what it was the day before," Anderson said. "I knew something was probably wrong, but I didn't know what the extent of it was.
"It's really frustrating. About the time that you kind of show your new teammates why they traded for you, you're showcasing some of your ability, then something like this happens."
Anderson will be sent to Denver to see a hand specialist to determine the treatment plan and pinpoint the expected time missed, Rockies head athletic trainer Keith Dugger said.
The injury had a freak nature to it. Dugger said he had never seen such an injury to that part of the finger from a swing. Anderson said usually when someone hits a ball the way he did, the bat breaks and takes some pressure off the hand.
"I guess the wood I had was too strong," he said.
Anderson, 26, had Tommy John surgery in 2011 and last season had foot and ankle injuries while with the Athletics.
"It's a freak deal," he said. "Obviously, I've had the shadow of the injury bug around me, but there's nothing I can do about it. I swung and broke my finger."
Culberson sent down to make room for Chatwood
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Rockies' evolving roster made another turn when the club optioned utility man Charlie Culberson to Triple-A Colorado Springs to make room for Sunday afternoon's starting pitcher, righty Tyler Chatwood, who was activated from the disabled list.
The Rockies have gone back and forth between 12 and 13 pitchers several times already and went back to 13 with Chatwood healthy after missing two starts because of a left hamstring injury. The move leaves Josh Rutledge, who came up Wednesday and has gone 4-for-5 in two games, as the lone infield backup.
The Rockies finished a three-game set with the Giants on Sunday and will be heading to San Diego for four games starting Monday. They prefer 12 pitchers during road trips, but bullpen usage in the three games going into Sunday was heavy.
That leaves Culberson (2-for-18 in nine games, two starts) the odd man out.
"Our roster is going to be real fluid," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "We'll use opportunities to protect our pitching and other times to protect our outfield, protect our infield, and at times send a guy out to get at-bats and stay sharp. If a guy isn't getting everyday at-bats up here, there's going to come a time to send him down to Triple-A so he can stay sharp. They can be sharp when we bring them back."
One reason for having Rutledge and Culberson was shortstop Troy Tulowitzki was battling right quadriceps tightness for the past week. But, Weiss said, "Tulo got through the worst part of it and seems to be doing much better. I feel comfortable where we're at."
Cuddyer batting second working out well
SAN FRANCISCO -- Rockies manager Walt Weiss is seeing good early results from his plan of moving 2013 National League batting champion Michael Cuddyer to No. 2 in the batting order -- up from the middle-of-the-lineup spots he occupied last season.
Cuddyer hit safely in his first 10 games (.386, three home runs and 10 RBIs). He went hitless Friday and on Saturday rested from the lineup, for the first time this season. He was back in the lineup Sunday afternoon against the Giants.
Weiss said when he thought of the idea, he called Cuddyer.
"Cuddy told me, 'I was thinking about calling you and telling you the same thing,'" Weiss said. "It's good we were on the same page."
Weiss said he discussed the issue of moving a hitter with power tools to the No. 2 spot with Tony La Russa, his manager early in his playing career with the Athletics and a sounding board since he was hired as Rockies manager before last season. Often, managers use small-ball types second in the order, but there is room for innovation.
"He loved it," Weiss said. "He did it during his time with St. Louis with [Larry] Walker and [Jim] Edmonds."